The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) improves research methodology by collaboratively making biodiversity literature openly available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community.
Acknowledging Harm, Rethinking Collections
On October 13, 2021, BHL released an Acknowledgment of Harmful Content to recognize deep prejudices within some of the pages of its collection. BHL joins recent global outcries against racial and environmental injustice. We are assessing our role as a digital library and the responsibility we have to question our neutrality and address harm without reducing access.

Museum für Naturkunde Explores Maria Sibylla Merian’s Legacy and Editions of Her Metamorphosis
Maria Sibylla Merian was a trailblazing artist and naturalist of the 17th and 18th centuries. Museum für Naturkunde Berlin conducted a student research project to explore Merian’s legacy and examine the provenance of and ultimately support the digitization of two editions in their collection of her work on Suriname insects.

Backswimmers vs. Mosquitos: BHL Informs Research on Controlling Yellow Fever Mosquito Populations
The effects of climate change are expected to increase the potential range of Aedes aegypti, known as the yellow fever mosquito. Gavin Campell, a PhD candidate at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, is studying natural population control methods. BHL has been critical to his research.

A Digitization Journey, a Knowledge Journey: Personal and Professional Insights From My Work on Polynesian Researches
William Ellis’ Polynesian Researches (v.4, 1853) records his time in Hawaiʻi while serving under the infamous American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Such ethnographic literature reflects the legacy and impact of colonialism on Indigenous people and knowledge systems. For Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives Conservation Technician Keala Richard shared personal and professional insights from her work with Polynesian Researches for BHL.

The Magic of the Magicicada
In the summer of 2021, the eastern region of North America experienced the emergence of trillions of Magicicada (periodical cicadas) in Brood X, which had been living underground for 17 years. Learn more about Brood X through books in BHL and observations from BHL Program Director, Martin Kalfatovic.

Supporting the Biodiversity Community:
BHL Engages in Global Biodiversity Projects
The Biodiversity Heritage Library thrives on international partnerships and collaborative projects. In the fall of 2021, representatives from BHL participated in a number of planning meetings and conferences in support of global biodiversity projects. Meetings included the BiCIKL hackathon, GBIF Governing Board Meeting, and TDWG 2021 virtual conference.

Chronicling the History of the Former Squires of Coulsdon: Rare Book Digitization Informs Research on the Byron Family
Only six copies of Edmund Byron's privately-printed journal, What we did in South Africa in 1873, are known to exist in libraries. Smithsonian Libraries and Archives has made their copy freely available in BHL. Online access to Byron’s journal was indispensable for Dr. Nigel Elliott, as he researched Bryon's travel as part of his book on the Byron family.

“BHL is a Game Changer for Scholars”:
BHL Empowers Research on Landscape Gardening History
Natural history literature can be a rich source of information for tracking the introduction of native plants into new regions for landscape gardening. Professor Mark Laird found BHL to be an essential resource for his historical gardening research, particularly through the pandemic-related lockdowns of the past year. Laird discovered BHL while researching his latest book on English gardening.

Discovering the Carnivorous Plants of BHL
Carnivorous plants have adapted the ability to derive nutrients from trapping and consuming insects, often to compensate for the nutrient-poor soil in which they have adapted to grow. John Schaefer, the Digital Plant Humanities Intern for Dumbarton Oaks, explores the cultural history of these fascinating plants and highlights select titles in BHL’s Carnivorous Plants collection.

Plant Trade and Medicinal Plants in Asia
Plants species in Asia are valued for the timber trade, medicinal purposes, and some simply for their rarity. Learn more about the conservation of tropical forests, ethnobotany in Asia, and wild plants in trade through select titles in BHL.

Inspiring Discovery through Free Access to Biodiversity Knowledge.
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169,000+ Titles | 273,000+ Volumes | 59+ Million Pages